EDINBURGH TV FESTIVAL 2018
Every year, August’s Bank Holiday weekend is the time when TV Executives and the ‘movers and shakers’ of the television industry gather in Edinburgh to discuss what’s new and take the temperature of ‘who and what’s hot or not’ in the world of broadcasting. Here’s a selection of some of the things talked about during 2018’s unmissable television junket.
The keynote speech of the Conference has always been the McTaggart Lecture, usually given by a leading prominent figure in the industry. This year, that honour was bestowed on Michaela Coel, who at 30 years old is probably the youngest honouree. She is an actor and writer and in 2016 won two Baftas for the comedy series ‘Chewing Gum’ which she writes and stars in. In her lecture she gave a sobering account of how difficult it had been as a black female to progress in the industry. She described a shocking incident when she was sexually assaulted but received little sympathy from the production company. She discovered that all the minority ethnic actors shared one trailer whilst a white actor had a trailer to themselves. These and other instances she described gave the audience much to think about. A report on her lecture can be found at
You can watch this year’s McTaggart lecture on the Edinburgh TV Festival website
Diversity has become something of a ‘buzzword’ in the industry and Paul Coleman, one of the writers of BBC-2’s Peter Kay’s ‘Car Share’ believes it resonated with working class people as it showed them working in a 9-5 job. This diversity of class was not something that Channel 4 might recognise as it was named ‘Britain’s poshest broadcaster’ due to the disclosure of the social background of it staff. Other channels did not provide any in-depth data.
In his speech, Jeremy Corbyn urged the BBC to provide this data on employees’ social background. He also outlined his plans for a new Digital Broadcasting Corporation to compete with companies such as Netflix and Amazon. He would like to impose a tax on these tech firms to subsidise the BBC. An interesting idea but he gave no details. This was much like the current Secretary of State for Media, Culture and Sport, Jeremy Wright who gave a lecture which was largely ignored by the media and Press. He admitted his ignorance of the industry and apparently gave vague ‘promises’ about English production companies being able to work in the EU after Brexit.
Channel 5 is perhaps not the first channel that members click on, but this year it won Channel of The Year at Edinburgh. The channel has had an interesting journey with its eclectic range of owners. Despite having a small budget and only paying £100.000 for 60 minutes of peak TV, it won its first Bafta this year for ‘Cruising with Jane McDonald’. This accolade and its award at Edinburgh may be surprising but no doubt gratifying and will give them even more cause to celebrate 21 years of broadcasting.